New “Food Rules” Create a Foodie Crisis of Faith

Fried FoodThe self-appointed prophet of the so-called “food movement” is author and University of California-Berkeley journalism professor Michael Pollan. He may be most known for his “food rules,” a series of dubious guidelines to eating. The most famous is probably “never eat anything with more than five ingredients,” which rules out homemade cookies, potato salad, and chicken curry, among other things. (Yes, Pollanites, we get that the rule is supposedly referring to perfectly safe additives in foods in the middle of the grocery store—but Pollan is the one who created this ridiculously over-simplified rule.)

As part of the promotional tour for his newest book — Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, a tome dedicated to ordering Americans back into the kitchen whether they like it or not — Pollan created some new “food rules” for non-heretical restaurant eating. Unfortunately, they were pointless or wrong enough that they caused an Esquire blogger to have a crisis of foodie faith.

He writes, “I would [write them down and use them], sharing as I do the world’s high esteem of Pollan. The problem — if it can even be called that; it’s more of a quibble — is that almost every single thing he says is wrong.” The writer points out that Pollan’s latest rule-deck is so ignorant of restaurant business practices and how food is actually distributed that it’s useless if not counter-informative.

The writer is so shaken by Pollan’s self-revelation as ignorant of how food is produced and sold that he wonders if the “rules” are all some Portlandia-style “name the chicken” parody. Given Pollan’s economic illiteracy — his “eat local” movement is practically predicated on denying the economic law of comparative advantage — and his penchant for dismissing science, we suspect the Esquire writer will be disappointed in that view. You can read his whole piece here.

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